Thursday, 26 February 2009

Caitlin R Keirnan

Have I found an absorbing new author?

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Today I chanced upon this book (many chance happenings lately) and when I read the opening, it pulled me in so fast that I dropped The Graveyard Book and started on it right away.

Imagine that! Dropping Neil Gaiman?

I googled and she has a few other interesting-sounding titles. I think this is a potentially good author whose books I'll search for in future.

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Wednesday, 25 February 2009

K-drama: Boys Before Flowers

I chanced upon the Korean version of Boys Over Flowers (a story about the exploits of 4 rich and "beautiful" boys, aka F4) that is showing on KBS World at 9pm weekdays on Asia cable tv (not sure yet which weekdays, I don't have the Cable TV mag).

The Korean version is called Boys Before Flowers, and it's a new K-drama that's enjoying quite some success in Korea, I believe.

So far, I've watched the 3rd and 4th episode over Monday and Tuesday, and I'm so hooked on it! Must get the DVD set when it's released. I only recognise the lead actress Koo Hye Sun (fourth from left of pic above) but none of the F4 boys.

Nonetheless, the boys are pretty to look at. I personally like Lee Min Ho (centre of pic - I think he'd make a good Edward Cullen hahaha) as Goo Joon Pyo aka Domyoji Tsukasa and am particularly fond of Kim Bum (second fr left - so cute!) as So Yi Jung aka Nishikado Sojiro.

I've never read the manga nor the other drama versions, Japanese or Taiwanese, believe it or not. So I'm coming into this show with fresh eyes.

There are so many things that are wrong with this k-drama, in particular the darn hilarious perm on Lee Min Ho and the over-acting cuteness of the lead actress Koo Hye Sun.

But maybe I'm biased toward k-drama, I find it all works together quite well and the 2 episodes I saw provided me with enough laughs to draw me into the show. I'm trying to catch every episode!

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Monday, 23 February 2009

Review: 28 Weeks Later

Saw the vcd (that I bought recently) of 28 Weeks Later last night.

It's a story of events 28 weeks post 28 Days Later, where the zombies have died and people have re-entered Britain (or as hinted, repatriated back) to reconstruct it with the assistance of an almost all-American NATO force. Most of the rest of England is fenced off, while the citizens live in a protected reconstruction zone. The zombie-infection is re-introduced into the city by a stroke of stupidy and carelessness, via contact with an asymptomatic carrier of the virus, who was brought into the reconstruction zone.

28 Days Later was a great atmospheric-shocker zombie movie set in England. It was well-filmed and well-written, so I hoped the sequel, 28 Weeks Later, might be just as good. 28 Weeks Later was made by original production crew, with original director Danny Boyle playing a key role as the Executive Producer.

However, I was quite let down by 28 Weeks Later. Besides a shocking opening scene, the rest of the movie was lacking in thrills, tension and atmosphere. Not surprising that the sequel was certainly a pale comparison to the original. It might have to do with the fact that the director is different and there were so many writers for the sequel, compared to only 1 for the original.

Furthermore, I did not have any emotional connection with the lead characters, unlike in the first film, where I felt for and sympathised with almost everyone. The leads in 28 Weeks Later were played poorly by the actors (with the exception of the very excellent Robert Carlyle, who did what he could with what he was given, then couldn't do much more because he became a zombie *sigh*).

Probably, the script was badly written and badly filmed (I felt almost no build-up of tension and the supposed climactic scene was ... clinical to me). I was immensely annoyed with everyone, and felt nothing at all when they were in danger or when they died!

While it's not a bad film (by many standards, I think it exceeds alot of the Hollywood fare), I think it failed to live up to the standards set by 28 Days Later. I do not regret spending time watching this film, but I was quite disappointed by it.

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Memories of Another Day & Library List

I found a Colleen Gleason book, When Twilight Burns, in the office library today and I borrowed it.

It brings to mind that a few years ago, I won of one of her books, in a lucky draw held by Colleen Gleason herself, but I never received it. I didn't bother her to remind her to send me the book. I figured it must have gotten lost in the mail. Since then, I haven't read her books at all, but I'm aware she's a popular author.

Now that I've finished reading the Twilight series, I think I'm ready to embark on Colleen Gleason, so I"m glad I found this book in the library.

Some other books I borrowed from the library:

Haunting the Nightside, Simon R Green
Memoirs of a Novelist, Virginia Woolf
After Dark, Haruki Murakami
Hellboy - Oddest Jobs, edited by Christopher Golden

Right now I'm starting on The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. Thankfully there isn't a strict borrowing time limit (books can be freely renewed) at my office library. So I can start on the books I borrowed after I'm done with The Graveyard Book. I expect I shall finish it quite fast.

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Sunday, 22 February 2009

Review (of sorts): Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer

Well, that's it, I finished Breaking Dawn last night!

What a rush it was, but strangely, I have no thoughts about this book beyond what I wrote yesterday and from before.

Ofcourse, my feelings remain the same as those right from the start: I apologise that I was disinterested with Bella's new experiences as a "newborn" and her experiences as a "wife". I admit I was slightly impressed with Bella's innate talent/gift, and how it morphed from something passive into something powerful.

I have no right to read this Twilight series!

As usual, I was totally sold on Jacob Black, I'm glad his imprinting with Renesmee was tastefully written. I'm glad his role is so central to everything that brings goodness, happiness and peace to the Forks and Bella world.

Someone I know said she hated the ending.

Me? I am apathetic. It only makes me happy that Jacob got someone great like Renesmee. Right now, I really love to know their story. I bet there's a tonne of fan fic out there on this couple.

Now, on to my movies and k-dramas. But I got to decide on a book for commute-reading: Graveyard Book, Anathem (so huge!) or Never Let me Go?

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Saturday, 21 February 2009

Hauls and Hoarding: Just Not Enough Time!

I've been rushing through, lapping up Breaking Dawn, loving every minute of it, especially the portions written from Jacob Black's perspective. There's alot more humour in this book, it doesn't take itself too seriously, thankfully! I stayed up until 3am last night reading, but now I'm at the part where it's back to Bella's perspective and I'm slowing down.


It's frustrating me, that I don't have enough time in the day to do everything I want. I want to watch the movie and k-drama discs I bought too.

I have hoarded too much lately, due to the cheap prices at the stores. I'm tempted to take time off from work to just veg out at home and watch k-dramas and movies!

Just the other day, I was walking along and spotted a VCD sale. Cheap, for the price of less than a ticket to the cinema! So I bought a few shows that I haven't seen yet.


It's easy to be a movie and k-drama addict, going overboard hoarding all the discs! It is very cheap to get old box sets, especially if they have Chinese subtitles. My Chinese reading abilities suck, especially if it's old Chinese and not simplified Chinese, but I can't resist the cheap k-dramas. I just have to pause at certain points to read the Chinese subs if I'm not fast enough.

Here's a bunch of k-drama that I have hauled and waiting for me to watch.


Top Row L-R: Hwang Jinyi, with Chinese subs, from Poh Kim @ $4.50SG, Witch Yoo Hee with Chinese subs, from Blue Max @ $8.00SG, Il Ji Mae from TS @ $18SG.

Bottom Row L-R: Purchased from long ago, I can't even recall the prices or locations! Winter Sonata, I'm Sorry I Love You and Glass Flower.

Yes, I'm slow, I've never watched Winter Sonata at all, yet, after all this time of being a k-drama fan!

At this moment, I am still tempted to get at least 1 more k-drama, because I'm catching random episodes of Sassy Girl Chun Hyang reruns on tv. I never watched this one and it's turning out to be quite interesting. I saw it on sale at TS. I feel like just getting the dvd because I hate watching k-drama at the rate of one-episode-a-day!

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Thursday, 19 February 2009

Review: Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer

Finished Eclipse last night. Again, no synopsis from me, to avoid spoilers (if it means anything at all), just my feelings about the book.

Everyone grew up in this book, including Bella, and I think I can like her better now. I stopped getting annoyed with her first person "voice" that the book was written in. I loved the last portion written in Jacob's voice (ie. from his perspective) the most. I could identify with his feelings when he thought about running away and remaining a wolf forever. Not that I am facing love problems, just that sometimes, life ...

How can I only root for Jacob Black? No matter how idiotic he gets? Isn't this series supposed to be about Bella and Edward? Seriously, maybe I should have read Twilight. Maybe that would have helped me feel more for Bella and Edward. Yet, I like Jacob best. No matter what. How impossible of me.

Honestly, I want a story, a book about Jacob. I want more stories about the werewolves. I got quite abit of it in this book, there's more background about werewolves, vampires and individual histories of the various characters are explained a bit more in Eclipse. The other positive aspect of Eclipse is that the plot is a little more rich compared to New Moon.

Overall, Eclipse was a better read than New Moon. I'm starting on Breaking Dawn today. I need to finish the books, because I have a stack of k-drama DVDs to watch, and I just picked up some cheap movie CDs yesterday.

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Friday, 13 February 2009

Review: New Moon, Stephenie Meyer

I finished New Moon 2 nights ago and have started on Eclipse. I shall discuss my feelings about the book and leave out synopsis and details so as to avoid spoilers for those who have not yet read this book.

The first thing I must say is this: I don't think I've ever disliked a main character so much as I've disliked Bella Swan.

I must qualify that I saw the Twilight movie but didn't bother to read Twilight, the book, but went on straight to New Moon. I did this because I simply wanted to know how the rest of the story turns out. I was also keen on reading about the backstory about the werewolves and vampires.

New Moon satisfied both goals, but along the way made me feel supremely irritated by Bella. I don't like the "voice" that she's written in. She's not a bad girl, but the way she's written, I end up disliking her. I don't like the choices she makes, I don't like the way she makes those choices, and I don't like the way she behaves.

Edward Cullen was physically not around for most of this book but ofcourse his presence was always felt because everything Bella does is centred around him. What I loved was the way the story developed for Jacob Black. While I think Stephenie Meyer never meant for him to be a "hero", Jacob Black drew out most of my feelings and I cared for him the most among all the characters.

As the youngest character in the book, he seems to have behaved the best and I felt he deserved none of the shit that Bella or Edward Cullen gave him! Just because you are hurting or in love doesn't give you the license to be inconsiderate or irresponsible ... which was what I felt Bella and Edward were doing.

Anyway, as I'm reading Eclipse now, I really wish Stephenie Meyer wrote the books in a 3rd person voice, because I'm extremely annoyed to be seeing the third book unfold through Bella's eyes again.

Plot-wise, I didn't find New Moon very thrilling/suspenseful, neither was it an exciting or emotional book, but Stephenie Meyer is able to tell a simple story in an effective way. Her writing is easy to read and while nothing much is really happening (that's what I feel though others may feel differently), the pacing is fine so the reader is able to just move along and get through the story quickly.

Overall, I found New Moon to be good entertainment but I wish Stephenie Meyer made Bella a different sort of girl.

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Sunday, 8 February 2009

Snow Queen - 눈의 여왕

If The Road was the book that defined the tone of 2009 for me, then Snow Queen is likely to be the K-drama equivalent.


I finished watching it yesterday, was compelled to get the theme songs and also woke up this morning with scenes from the show running through my mind.

I can't identify what exactly affected me so much. It might be the combination of the story, cinematography, scenery, music and lead actors.

In summary, this k-drama is focussed around the lead character Han Yae Woong (acted by Hyun Bin). He is a math prodigy who lost his best friend when he was 17, in high school. Although it wasn't his fault, he felt guilty for his friend's death and ran away. Dropping out from school he spent 8 years hiding from his true identity and talents, living his life as a boxer under the name of Han Duek Ku (his best friend's boxing idol). As things unfold, he finds his true love (Kim Bo Ra, acted by Sung Yu Ri), true talents and path in life.

I shall stop trying to do a synopsis here, because like all k-drama, the storyline is kind of convoluted and what I intended to do in this post is to write about my feelings on the show.

The drama is quite slow and actually lacks many of the dramatic and sometimes unrealistic plot devices that pepper k-dramas. In fact, sometimes, I think it was only Hyun Bin's and Sung Yu Ri's pretty faces that compelled me to keep watching. They are both very expressive and beautiful to watch. While they are not passionate, the love that develops is something beautiful.

This drama seems to focus on the innocent and pure love (all the time they were together, they didn't even sleep in the same room until the end - and even then they were fully clothed, not doing anything other than sleep). The couple also only shared 3 kisses (no open mouths, no tongues either) through out the entire show.

So, what was it besides the lead actors that struck me about this show? I think it must be the ending.

I seldom like the endings in k-dramas. Many times they are very dissatisfying. This show however, ended on a beautiful and poignant note. Even though it was a hard and painful ending, I loved the thread of harsh and sad beauty.

OMG, as I'm writing this, I think I know what it is that makes this show different. It's got this note of mono no aware (物の哀れ)!!! Very bittersweet. I think that's it!

The line that says it all, are the words that Han Tae Woong said to Bo Ra. It goes something like this, "Keep your eyes open, no matter how hard it is, no matter how painful it gets, it's good to be alive, to struggle and to continue on ..."

Those were words that he used to discourage Bo Ra from suicide and the same words that she left in a message for him at the end.

The show also revealed to me how cold the Korean winter can be ... there were many scenes in the open air or in a large room (such as the open gym) where huge puffs of smoke came out of their mouths when they breathed or spoke!

I leave you with Hyun Bin's beautiful profile (I made a screen cap from the show).


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Thursday, 5 February 2009

Now Reading


It's quite fun and light reading. I bought books 2 & 3, and managed to borrow book 4 from the library.

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